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Letters Newspapers   2013



Coming in the wake of the Manase Report, an evaluation of the strategic risks to which the Ethekwini Municipality is exposed serves to confirm the blighted state of governance afflicting local government in Durban.


The findings of a strategic risk assessment workshop featured as part of the agenda of the meeting of the Economic Development and Planning  Committee held on September 5. The top ten risks listed are: Supply Chain Management, Non Revenue water, adequacy of talent, fraud, theft and corruption, Housing expectations, rapid urbanisation, communication, infrastructure challenges, investments in the city,

financial sustainability.


While shocked at the extent of the malaise affecting the operation of the municipality and its ability to deliver services, I welcome the candour and honesty of the report as regards the identification of root causes. The following quotes from the report illustrate the extent of the shortcomings Ethekwini faces. On supply chain management it notes poor planning, fraud and conflict of interests. Overall, inadequacy of talent and the failure to retain skills is identified across the board. Exacerbating the situation is a lack of disciplinary processes and management and sheer non-compliance to the extent that the report actually names ‘moral degeneration’ as a major contributing factor afflicting the running of the city.


I believe that this sorry situation is the product of the policy of cadre-deployment and jobs for pals. Unless those practices are abandoned and replaced by employment criteria based solely on  proven skills and competence, the administration of Ethekwini municipality is going to continue to decline. Such a scenario will trigger ratepayer resistance and disinvestment from which, as the experience of Detroit in the USA shows, the chances of recovery

are very slim.



Developments at three other ports in southern Africa have the potential

to deprive Durban of much of its container traffic and, as a consequence,

impact negatively on its economy.

Walvis Bay in Namibia is expanding its container terminal capacity. At least five

sailing days closer to the North American and European markets, Walvis Bay

has the potential to deprive Durban of time-sensitive cargoes. Then there is

Maputo which, historically, has always been well-placed to enjoy trade and traffic

from the Witwatersrand and which is planning to improve its maritime potential.

Coega, near Port Elizabeth, cannot be discounted from making future inroads into

the container business.

Viewed from that context, the plans to extend Durban’s container-handling capacity

by means of back-of-port expansion and the dig-out port are vital if Durban is to

hold out against competition in this trade. Significantly, a review of the 2013

IDP (Integrated Development Plan) earmarks major expenditure and employment

opportunities for those projects. The South Durban Basin, which has suffered economically

since the relocation of the airport, thus stands to derive significant economic benefit from

the port expansion projects.



The reasons for the DA’s opposition to the 2013/14 eThekwini budget are no different from the last ten years in which it has opposed budgets

set by the ANC-led Council: top-heavy organisational structure, dysfunctional departments like the Metro Police and Housing, slipping standards

and contracts for cronies.

* Specifically, the DA cannot support an ever-upward spending trajectory that has now reached almost R34 billion – just seven years ago it

was R13,9 billion- on a rates base that is stagnant.

* The fact that a mere 450,000 people out of the eThekwini population of 3,5 million pay rates is neither a sound nor a sustainable situation.

* The fact that only 992,560 of the population of eThekwini - 30,5% - are employed places an unsustainable burden on them to keep paying

for the ever-increasing costs of this municipality.

* The lack of an incentivising programme to attract business investment.

* Rate charges that are the highest amongst the seven metros.

* Failure to increase capital spending at a time of economic hardship and so sustain and increase employment opportunities. Instead,

the capital budget has been reduced from R6,5 to R5,4 billion while the operating budget, which under the circumstances, should have

been trimmed, has grown from R25 to R28 billion.

What Durban needs to survive the economic challenges it faces is an immediate end to the functioning of Parkinson’s Law in respect of

the burgeoning layers of management personnel. We need competitive outsourcing, transparency in the bid adjudication system and lower tariffs in

respect of attracting business investment. Above all, the Council needs to demonstrate political will in dismissing corrupt councillors and staff who

brazenly flout the law by conducting business deals with the Council. There needs to be insistence on standards of excellence and elimination of those whose

work ethics do not comply with the principle of batho pele, we serve.

Unfortunately, in presenting the 2013/14 Budget on May 29, mayor Nxumalo did not undertake to implement any of these badly-needed reforms.



At the meeting of the eThekwini Council on April 30 all parties voted in support of

the expenditure of R500,000 on research and mapping of a Liberation Heritage Route


Approved by the national Cabinet, the aim of the project is to identify a series of

sites which historically were linked in the ANC’s liberation struggle and to create a

tourism experience. While from a history and heritage point of view, such a project is

justified, it needs to be integrated into the wider historical tapestry which this country

has charted.

Each generation in our history has had its liberators. Within eThekwini there are statues

and monuments to Dick King, Louis Botha and Jan Smuts, for example. Within the context

of their times they were liberators. Without context, the relevance and significance of a history

suffers. Moreover, the Preamble of our Constitution calls on us to ‘respect those who have

worked to build and develop our country.’

The time for sectional accounts of our history has passed. Incorporating the recent liberators

into our accumulated historical highway, would demonstrate maturity as a society

while simultaneously presenting tourists with a comprehensive historical experience.



There has been much public outrage at the news that several councillors

around the province are in arrears with their payments to municipalities on their

rates, water and electricity accounts.

This outrage is fully justified as those elected to public office should lead by example.

In that respect history is instructive. According to a report in the Mercury on July 7, 1900,

Councillor Poynton was automatically disqualified as a public representative on the Durban

Town Council for an entire year because he was one month in arrears by a small amount on

property he was renting.

Yesterday’s excellence should be today’s standards.



HYPOCRITICAL SILENCE posted March 7, 2013

The news that more than 4,000 people died whilst in police custody between 2006 and 2011(Mercury, 4 March)

ought to have been framed within thick black lines on the front pages of our press as was the case

during the apartheid era. Yet this devastating indictment of the extent to which human rights have lapsed in

the new South Africa was tucked away on the inner pages.

Where are the voices that routinely trot out the cliches about the ‘dark days of apartheid?’ Their silence now is the

the silence of hypocrisy. Why don’t they acknowledge that whilst under apartheid there was detention without trial,

under the ANC regime there is now execution without trial ?

For the record: from 1963 until 1985, the number of deaths in police detention was 74.


To the Headmaster and Staff – DHS                        posted 14 February, 2013


On Friday, February 8, I had occasion to have parked my car in Windmill Rd and was walking to Musgrave Centre.

Your school was out early – it was around 11.20 am – prize giving day maybe .

It was a warm day yet I noticed that every one of the scores of your pupils who were walking in the same direction

had his blazer buttoned, his tie was firmly in place,  not a shirt tail was visible.


Even more impressive was the fact that they greeted me! Yet I was a mere stranger on the street.


Having retired from  a school south of Durban where we abandoned the tie because it was abused, where we

abandoned the blazer [except for speech days] and where we brought in a shirt that was not tucked in because

getting shirt tails tucked in just became impossible – I feel uplifted by the sartorial pride and uniformity displayed

by the DHS pupils I saw last Friday and also by their courtesy and politeness.


There is hope for this country when such behaviour is witnessed.

May you live long and prosper.





posted Jan 29, 2013


On 28 January the Department of Social Services published an eighteen page list of the points around the country where recipients of

social grants can re-register. Whilst other provinces enjoyed the luxury of hundreds of such points, only 75 registration points are listed

for KZN, despite the fact that it has the largest population of the nine provinces.  Durban, with a population of 3,6 million, has only 12

registration points.


This is unacceptable. It is also impractical as the elderly and infirm cannot be expected to queue  for up to 12 hours before being served.

Exemplifying this reality is the fact that residents of the central Durban area have only one service point: the APS hall at 159 Carlisle St. which

is not even in the CBD area.


My enquiries as to why this is the case have been met, predictably, by the claim that the Dept is short of staff and budget.

Again this is risible given the vast sums of money lavished on the President’s home and other examples of looting from the public purse.


If re-registration is required, then it must be staggered over a period and, like voting, it must be suburb-based, so as to be convenient for

those who are disadvantaged in terms of mobility and transport.